VICTOR — After six years with the nonprofit Full Circle Education, Emily Sustick has dug deep, planted a lot of seeds and is now looking to cultivate a growing passion of her own in her next act along the Teton Valley’s various stages.
Full Circle Education works to support sustainable living practices while celebrating and growing the work of “seed to plate” educational practices. Sustick was the face for so many local students and children as she led educational programs and classes with a variety of schools and thousands of members of the valley community.
“I love that we provide people the tangible opportunity to connect with their food,” Sustick said of her tenure with Full Circle. “I love that students can follow their food from seed to plate; from the planting to harvesting, the preparing of food and to eating. When students and children are involved in that process, they are more likely to be invested.”
The non profit was founded by Erika Eschholz, co-owner, co-farmer of Full Circle Farms in Victor. Sustick spent several summers working for Erica before the right position at Full Circle Education sprouted. She worked under then executive director Cindy Riegel. When Riegel was elected county commissioner for the first time in 2014, Sustick remained as the program director, absorbing some of the roles an ED would shoulder.
“I have had to work at a number of levels in the organization,” Sustick said of the balance so many must attempt working for a non profit. “I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with schools, educators, other non profits, and I’ve built connections through the community.”
She said by sharing Full Circle Education’s mission, she found common, if not sacred ground with people from many different backgrounds and cultural perspectives in the valley. She said when parents and students are on their knees planting in a garden, the experience is leveling and most people can see eye to eye when it comes to tending the dirt as well as tending to your neighbors. “Around the garden was a place where we could all agree and I always thought that was pretty cool,” she said.
Sustick laughed when asked if she had a favorite student out of all the students she’s worked with through the years. She said she didn’t, but valued the student that would challenge her the most – the student who didn’t want to try the carrot, or the student who didn’t want to get their hands dirty in the dirt – those students offered Sustick the unique opportunity to open their eyes to something new.
“I’m not a magic worker, veggies just taste better from the garden,” Sustick said of convincing students to eat their greens. “There was more of a willingness to try something new when (students) were invited to be apart of that process.”
Full Circle Education board member Emily Nichols acknowledged the fruits of Sustick’s labor growing programs.
“Emily’s work with Full Circle Education has touched many families and community members in Teton Valley,” said Nichols. “Connecting children to the food they eat through hands-on learning is an invaluable benefit to our future generations. Emily’s passion for garden and farm education has helped make a strong connection to the land, agriculture and our community.”
Full Circle Education is currently looking to hire an executive director. Nichols said that once the executive director is in place, the organization would look for a program director. Sustick said she’s excited for the next chapter to Full Circle Education and is just as eager to think about her next steps as well.
“I started my own business that I’m excited to grow and pursue – Red House Flowers –and I’m excited to challenge myself in different ways,” she said. “I’m excited for new and different opportunities.”